My one word for 2011 is “ask.”
To understand the significance of this word, you have to understand a bit about my past. You see, I grew up with a lot of shame, and it is those shaming messages that have hung, foglike, around me coloring and distorting my perceptions.
My dad was, and is, a very sarcastic callous man, and I learned early on that I wasn’t special to him (“What the hell’s wrong with you?”). One of my strongest memories was him walking away from me in disgust after trying to teach me how bat a baseball with a Johnny Bench Batter-Up. (Remember those?). I don’t think he could deal with the fact that I wasn’t as athletic as him.
Another strong memory comes from 2nd grade, and the day my class made homemade ice cream. “Come on, Chad, the girls are better than you,” my teacher said as I cranked the handle. Just served to further reinforce the message that I didn’t measure up–would never measure up.
So I clammed up. Became shy and withdrawn. Retreated into the world of books. Got heavily into pornography. (I won’t even go into being called, despite the fact that I wasn’t, “gay” in middle school).
The bottom dropped out in May, 1983, when my dad took my brother and I to see Return of the Jedi. Right after celebrating the triumph of the Rebel Alliance, he told us he was divorcing our mother–his wife of 16 years. I was 13–almost 14–and about ready to enter high school. It would be a gross understatement to merely say it was already a confusing season in my life. But there it was, there I was, standing in a mall, not knowing anything except that, yet again, I was no good.
Do you see the shift? The shaming messages in my life morphed, in my mind, from not being good enough to not being any good at all. I was good for nothing. (I know now that it wasn’t my fault that my parents divorced–despite having an aunt, my dad’s sister, say that very thing to me: “It’s always the children’s fault”).
I share all that to illustrate why the hardest thing for me to do is just ask–and why it hurts so bad when I screw up the courage to ask, and get shot down. I fear both rejection, and success. Yet crave acceptance. How messed up is that?
“O, wretched man am I, who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Because I am a broken, broken man.
(It is only just now, in hindsight, that I’m coming to realize that enemy of our souls seems to have had it in for me from a very young age. I can only take this to mean that Jesus has something special in mind for me–not that I know what it is).
There you have a brief sketch on why I believe “ask” is so important to me in 2011. Despite the fear, I will ask. Despite the reservations, I will persevere. I will simply ask. Please be kind if I ask you. Please pray for me as I trod this new road.
Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV) tells us:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”